The Purpose of Spiritual Gifts | 1 Corinthians 14

1 Corinthians

When believers gather as a church body, we should come with the intention to love and build up others using our spiritual gifts. Oren Martin walks through 1 Corinthians 14 and lays out four things Paul says corporate worship should be.

Oren MartinJul 24, 20221 Corinthians 14:1-40

In This Series (20)
Standing Firm In A Fallen World | 1 Corinthians 16
David MarvinJul 31, 2022
The Purpose of Spiritual Gifts | 1 Corinthians 14
Oren MartinJul 24, 2022
A Church Marked by Love | 1 Corinthians 13
Timothy "TA" AteekJul 17, 2022
How To Build A Church | 1 Corinthians 12
John ElmoreJul 10, 2022
God's Design for Men and Women | 1 Corinthians 11:1-16
Timothy "TA" AteekJul 3, 2022
Repentance, Allegiance, and Deference for the Glory of God | 1 Corinthians 10
John ElmoreJun 26, 2022
Giving, Sharing, and Living for the Gospel | 1 Corinthians 9
John ElmoreJun 19, 2022
Christians and Controversial Topics | 1 Corinthians 8
Jermaine HarrisonJun 12, 2022
Being Single | 1 Corinthians 7:7-40
Timothy "TA" AteekJun 5, 2022
Fighting For Your Marriage | 1 Corinthians 7:1-16
Timothy "TA" AteekMay 22, 2022
Sex and Glorifying God | 1 Corinthians 6:12-20
Timothy "TA" AteekMay 15, 2022
Conflict: An Inevitable Opportunity | 1 Corinthians 6:1-11
Timothy "TA" AteekMay 1, 2022
Church Discipline: Sin, Grace, and Shepherding | 1 Corinthians 5
John ElmoreApr 24, 2022
The Resurrection Is the Remedy to Our Hypocrisy | 1 Corinthians 15
Timothy "TA" AteekApr 17, 2022
The Purpose, Plot Twists, and Power of Christ | 1 Corinthians 4
John ElmoreApr 10, 2022
Being a Healthy Church | 1 Corinthians 3:1-23
Timothy "TA" AteekMar 27, 2022
The Miracle of Spiritual Maturity | 1 Corinthians 2:1-16
Timothy "TA" AteekMar 20, 2022
The Miracle of Salvation | 1 Corinthians 1:18-31
Timothy "TA" AteekMar 13, 2022
Priority, Preference, and Power | 1 Corinthians 1:10-17
John ElmoreMar 6, 2022
Called, Gifted, and Kept by Jesus | 1 Corinthians 1:1-9
John ElmoreFeb 27, 2022

In This Series (20)


When believers gather together for corporate worship, we are to love others by using our words and gifts for others’ growth in Christ. In 1 Corinthians 14, Paul is specifically talking about the gifts of prophecy and tongues, which were given by the Spirit in the early church to establish and grow the church through the proclamation of the gospel. Prophecy is true and authoritative revelation from God, and tongues are known languages unknown to the speaker but known to the hearers. The Corinthians were not using these gifts in a way that benefitted others in corporate worship. Paul describes four things corporate worship should be:

  1. Corporate worship helps others grow in Christ (1 Corinthians 14:1-5)
    • When we come together and use our spiritual gifts, we build up, encourage, and comfort others.
  2. Corporate worship is understandable (1 Corinthians 14:6-25)
    • Meaningless, misunderstood, or unintelligible language does not invite people in, but pushes people out.
  3. Corporate worship is orderly, not chaotic (1 Corinthians 14:26-35)
    • Corporate worship should be a reflection of God’s character.
  4. Corporate worship should be ordered by God’s Word (1 Corinthians 14:36-40)
    • This chapter may not be easy to live out, but it contains God’s words for our good and growth in Christ.

Discussing and Applying the Sermon

  • What is your mindset when coming to church? Is it you-focused or others-focused?
  • How are you using your gifts to encourage, comfort, and love others?
  • How can you hone the spiritual gifts God has given you?
  • In your pursuit of the gifts of the Spirit, are you pursuing the fruits of the Spirit? Are you growing in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control (Galatians 5:22-23)?
  • What would Sunday services look like if everyone came with the intention to build up others?
  • Additional Scripture: Deuteronomy 18:15-22, Ephesians 2:18-22, Acts 2:1-47, Acts 3:11-26, Acts 10:34-48, 1 Corinthians 12:1-31, 1 Corinthians 13:1-13, Isaiah 28:1-29, John 5:19-47, John 14:6, Hebrews 1:1-14, Ephesians 2:1-22

Good morning, Watermark Community Church. What a joy it is to be able to bring God's Word to you this morning from 1 Corinthians 14. If you have a Bible, you can open it to 1 Corinthians 14. Let me just thank Blake and the elders, as well as TA and John, for the opportunity to open God's Word together. I don't know if I should thank them for this specific passage, but the opportunity to open God's Word… I'm so grateful, and I look forward to diving in with you.

I love sports. Maybe you can identify with this. I enjoy watching sports. I don't care the kind of sport it is. I enjoy even more attending sports events…basketball, baseball, football, soccer, car racing, Summer Olympics, Winter Olympics…I mean, you name it. So, you can imagine my excitement when my kids got old enough to play sports. I longed for the day. I was eager to jump in with them, so eager that I've been able to coach their teams over the years.

One particular year, when my youngest son began to play, we were in one of the early practices of baseball, which they've kind of chosen to focus on, and I was teaching one particular boy how to throw a baseball. No matter how much I worked with this kid, this is how he would throw. I wanted to be like, "What are you? Are you Michael Jackson? I don't know what this spin move is, but I do know that's not a proper way to throw a baseball." It was evident by the ball going in all kinds of directions.

What was needed? No matter what sport it was, whether it was baseball or basketball or soccer, or whatever it was, in those early years when kids began to play for the first time, they needed something, because there was just chaos. They didn't get open for the ball. They just kind of ran in huddles no matter where the ball was. They weren't getting open. I mean, there were kids in the outfield catching butterflies and turning their hats around and just kind of running around. If they wanted to pitch, they'd run into the infield and try to do something. I mean, it was utter chaos.

As you play and as you begin to grow… What was needed in those early years was maturity, development. Kids needed to know their roles, to know their positions. They needed to know what their responsibilities were. They needed to know what their teammates' responsibilities were. Each kid had to learn how to talk to their teammates. Each kid had to learn it wasn't all about them but the team coming together and playing together as a team. They needed self-control. They needed order. They needed all kinds of things, which come as you play, as you practice, as you become more experienced.

As we think about Corinthians, this is exactly what was going on in the Corinthian church. There was all kinds of sin, and we've been able to see those things as we've walked through 1 Corinthians over the past several months. People were coming in, and they were acting selfishly. They were not treating others as God designed them to treat others. They weren't loving God and loving others as themselves.

They were having inappropriate relations with their father's wife. They were suing each other. They were not loving each other. They were seeking their own contentment. They were seeking their own position. They were seeking their own gain. Whatever it was, there was selfishness and sin and immaturity. Paul writes into this situation to instruct them so that the church might be healthy, that the church might be exactly what God designed it to be.

When we come to 1 Corinthians 14, this is exactly where we are. When they gathered together as a whole church, kind of like what we're doing now, the picture was no different. They weren't coming into their corporate, public gatherings with the intention to love others, with the intention to bless others. They weren't using their spiritual gifts to bless and build up others. No. They were misusing their gifts in a selfish way, in a disruptive way, with little regard for others.

So, Paul takes this opportunity in his letter to write and to instruct them so that they might live with one another for the common good, for the good of one another. So, turn in your Bibles, if you haven't already, to 1 Corinthians, chapter 14. The main point is pretty simple. He actually gives it to us right out of the gate. I'll read verses 1-5.

"Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy." Why does he say this? "For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit. On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church. Now I want you all to speak in tongues…"

This is a rhetorical statement, just like when he said in 1 Corinthians 7, "Now I wish that you were all as I am, single." He's making a point. What's his point? "…but even more to prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues…" Not greater in the sense of superior, but greater in the sense that it brings benefit to the whole. "…unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up."

Here is what I would summarize as Paul's main point: when you gather together as a whole church for public or corporate worship (like right now), love others by using your gifts, especially your words, for others' growth in Christ. Now, there are two things I want us to note before we jump into chapter 14 more deeply.

First, Paul is addressing when they come together as a whole. You might have heard those words. Verse 19: "Nevertheless, in church…" Verse 23: "If, therefore, the whole church comes together…" So, he isn't talking to brothers or sisters in Christ, five people gathering for coffee. He isn't talking about serving in the kids' ministry, valuable ways to serve. He's talking about corporate worship.

Corporate worship in Corinth was much more participatory than what we experience here, like right now. It's just the nature of the church here. There were various kinds of churches in the early church, and Corinth was one that was more like a house church, so they were a little bit more free to participate and use their word gifts to speak. There were other churches that were bigger and didn't do that. So, we have to understand the situation is a little bit different, though the situation is the same in that it addresses public, corporate worship.

The second thing is that Paul is addressing a specific problem. It's why he keys in on two things: namely, prophecy and tongues. He kind of summarizes this in verse 1. "Pursue love…" That's chapter 13, which we heard from last week. "…and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts…" That's what we heard in chapter 12. It's actually how 12:31 ends.

So, he's not denigrating the other gifts. He's saying, "Earnestly desire those. Use the gifts God has given you." But he takes this moment to address a specific problem in which their gifts were being misused; namely, the gifts of prophecy and tongues. That raises the question…What are prophecy and tongues? Thankfully, that's not a debated issue. (I'm just kidding. That's a joke. It has been a debated issue.)

So, we need to define our terms. First, what is prophecy? Prophecy is true and authoritative revelation from God. Now, some have maybe understood, or maybe you've thought about prophecy being, oh, just kind of an encouraging word or maybe that's what preaching is or teaching or some kind of Spirit-inspired interpretation of Scripture or just speaking an encouraging word to someone.

We ought to be doing those things, but I want to say that prophecy is actually a more technical term than that in Scripture. Where do I get that from? I'm glad you asked. I get that in places like 1 Corinthians 14, verses 29 and following. Here's what it says: "Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. If a revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged…"

Did you catch that? Prophecy, revelation… They're used interchangeably. They're mutually interpreting. Furthermore, this is how it fits with the rest of Scripture. For example, a very important text in Deuteronomy 18 in which Moses, the prophet, is speaking to Israel. Moses says, "There's going to come a day, and God is going to give you another prophet, and this prophet is going to speak truth.

You'll know this prophet speaks truth by the fact that his words are true and become true. If he doesn't speak God's truth, if his words aren't true, if they don't come true, then don't listen to that prophet. That false prophet will pay the consequences. They will be judged for speaking in the name of God the revelation of God." So reject it. Why? Because that's not God's true and authoritative revelation.

So, what did God do? In fulfillment of God's promises, he gave them prophets…Elijah, Elisha, Nathan, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, the Minor Prophets (the Twelve). They declared God's revelation for the present and the future. In the same way, when Jesus came to fulfill God's saving promises in the New Testament… What does Ephesians 2:20 tell us? God gave apostles. He gave prophets in the early church to communicate God's authoritative, true revelation. This true and authoritative revelation became the foundation of the church. So, prophecy communicates God's true and authoritative revelation.

As for tongues, tongues are known languages unknown to the speaker but known to the hearers. We see this, for example, in Acts, chapter 2, chapter 10, and chapter 19. You probably know the story of Pentecost, in fulfillment of God's promises in Christ, when the Spirit would come and the church would be born. Acts 2 tells us that they (the apostles) began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance, and each one was hearing them speak in their own language.

Do you see that? Tongues. Language. In Acts, there were people from all kinds of nations and languages, and when the apostles spoke, each person heard the word of God. They heard the word about Christ in their own language. Now, in Acts, no interpreters were needed (this is important) because there were people there from various nations and languages. There were people there, in other words, who understood the various languages.

This is different than Corinth. This was not the case at the church at Corinth. Because there were not various kinds of people who understood various kinds of known languages, because they weren't there, Paul puts a stopgap in place. What's that stopgap? Interpreters. Interpreters were needed to understand, to hear, God's word.

The important thing is that the gift of tongues was the same in Acts and 1 Corinthians, but the situation was different, which is why Paul addressed it. People were speaking in languages that no one understood, and Paul was like, "If that's going on there, it's not beneficial. It's not helping anyone." This is where we come to our first point. In verses 1-5, we learn:

  1. Corporate worship helps others grow in Christ. I want us to see four things in this passage. Paul begins by telling them to pursue love and to earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that they may prophesy. There's a strength here to the word pursue. Paul is saying to intentionally look for ways to bless and build up others. "Pursue love."

We saw last week from TA love is a verb. There's action behind it. Yes, we can pray for spiritual gifts, but in the midst of that, pursue love. It's not a passive activity; it's a Spirit-given, Spirit-driven effort on our part to serve others. He says that if they're speaking in uninterpreted tongues and languages no one knows, then it's not beneficial, but, on the other hand, if one prophesies, that person builds up and encourages and comforts.

Why is this important for us? I would imagine in a gathering this large there are all kinds of burdens that are brought in. We come in here discouraged, torn down, beaten down, suffering, with all kinds of difficulties and conflicts. We sin against others. Others sin against us. There's a spiritual, emotional, relational, and physical suffering, and we need to be reminded of what God has said and done for us in Christ. We need to be reminded by the songs we sing that God is faithful, that we can join one day in that song being sung that "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain."

We need to be reminded that in the midst of our difficulties, in the midst of our discouragement, there is King Jesus, seated on a throne, because his work is finished. There's no more to be done. So, we need to speak to one another words of encouragement, words that strengthen, words that comfort. We need to be reminded not to waste our words so that we can be prepared to go out from this place and be faithful in this world as we seek to follow Christ.

  1. Corporate worship is understandable. Verses 6-25: "Now, brothers [and sisters], if I come to you speaking in tongues, how will I benefit you unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or teaching? If even lifeless instruments, such as the flute or the harp, do not give distinct notes, how will anyone know what is played? And if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle?

So with yourselves, if with your tongue you utter speech that is not intelligible, how will anyone know what is said? For you will be speaking into the air. There are doubtless many different languages in the world, and none is without meaning, but if I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me. So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church." Here's his main point:

"Therefore, one who speaks in a tongue should pray [for the power to] interpret. For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful. What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also. Otherwise, if you give thanks with your spirit, how can anyone in the position of an outsider say 'Amen'…" How can they say it's true to what you're saying?

"For you may be giving thanks well enough, but the other person is not being built up. I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. Nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue. Brothers [and sisters], do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature. In the Law it is written, 'By people of strange tongues and by the lips of foreigners will I speak to this people, and even then they will not listen to me, says the Lord.'

Thus tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers, while prophecy is a sign not for unbelievers but for believers. If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your minds?" They'll say you're crazy. "But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you."

In these verses, Paul basically runs with the problem of misunderstood, unintelligible tongues. Basically, he kind of runs with tongues gone bad. He gives clear illustrations using things that would be familiar to them. He says that if instruments do not give a clear and correct sound, there will be chaos. There will be misunderstanding. Paul understood that instruments do something. We just experienced this.

A flute and a harp (we didn't experience a flute and a harp, Paul's illustration) must give clear notes, and a bugle must give the correct note. Apparently, there are dozens of sounds a bugle can make. Sorry I don't have a bugle to blow, like TA had cymbals to clang last week, but you kind of get the concept. If it blows the wrong sound, the military will not be prepared for battle. It must give both a clear and a correct note.

We don't have some electric guitar solo going rogue in the middle of worship. That would be disorderly. It might be cool, but it wouldn't be helpful. In the same way, fulfilling our purpose in corporate worship requires clear and correct words. It's why everything we do we want to be driven by truth…the songs we sing, the words that are spoken. There's a reason we're walking through 1 Corinthians.

I had a very illustrious two and a half years in band in junior high. I was the kind of band member that when my friends dared me to start playing a different song in the middle of a band concert, I would just start doing it. You didn't have to threaten me with a good time. Or if someone dared me (true story) to sneeze so violently into my horn during a concert that I fell off the back of the podium in my chair, putting my own body at risk for the sake of a laugh, I would do it, and I did do it. It's why I only made it two and a half years.

Needless to say, I was not a helpful band member, because I did not give clear and correct notes. In the same way, Paul says, "Look. If there's not clear communication that's understood, then others can't understand what's being said, and if they can't understand what's being said, they're not going to be built up. They're not going to grow in Christ."

So, he says, if you're going to speak in tongues, fine, but make sure it's interpreted. And how do you make sure? Use your mind. Engage your mind, which, by the way, kind of seems out of place with what we often see on television of the practice of tongues. It's often chaotic and unintelligible, disorderly, mindless. Paul says, "No. Engage your mind. Don't be carried away." So, speak clearly. Speak correctly.

He tells them in verse 20, "Grow up. You're being immature. You're thinking about yourself. Grow up." To make his point, he quotes Isaiah 28. Interesting passage, because in the context of Isaiah 28, it's a context of judgment. It's a context in which Israel was not listening to God's clear, correct word that called them back to covenant, that called them to repentance, that called them to trust in him so they might experience his blessing.

Because they rejected his word, God said he would send them a foreign nation that would speak to them in foreign languages, and they wouldn't be able to understand. This would be a sign of God's judgment. So, what's Paul's point here? Paul's point is that meaningless, unintelligible, misunderstood language does not invite people in but, rather, pushes people out.

Have you ever been an outsider? My first job out of high school was at Discount Tire Company, and it was in South Houston in a predominately Spanish-speaking context. I was one of the few people who didn't speak Spanish. I heard conversations going on all day, laughing and having fun. I kind of felt like Michael Scott in The Office when he said, "I love an inside joke. I've always wanted to be a part of one." That's what I felt like for four years.

What was the problem? I couldn't understand. This was the problem at Corinth. So, Paul says, "On the other hand, if all prophesy, then they will be convicted by all. Sin will be exposed. They will worship and experience God's presence." In other words, clear, correct communication, speech, is vital for both edification for Christians and the evangelization of non-Christians. That's why we want to speak clearly.

Let me just take a minute. If you're here this morning, and you are not a Christian, if you have not trusted in Jesus to forgive you of your sins and fill you with the hope of eternal life, let me just take a moment and say I don't want to be like Corinth. We don't want to be like Corinth. We want to speak clearly about the best news we could ever know, and that news is the good news of the gospel.

My wife and I struggled with infertility and miscarriages for years, and when we were finally able, by God's grace, to have children, I remember walking home from work, and literally, I would walk or run as fast as I could, because I wanted to fly through that door and see my kids crawling toward me, because we had so wanted children for so many years. It was such a gift to have them crawl up in my lap and just enjoy being in their presence.

But there was one thing I did not like: when they crawled up into my presence and had a dirty diaper that smelled like death. It was awful. Good thing my children aren't here to my right, sitting. (I'm not going to point them out.) The problem was, first, they had a dirty diaper; secondly, there was nothing they could do to change it. We had to change it for them and clean them up so they could be in our presence.

Friends, that's the gospel. God created you and me to enjoy and to be in his presence. We believe that in God's presence is fullness of joy, but there's a problem. The problem is our sin. We have not loved God with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength. We have not loved others as ourselves. We've committed sexual immorality and impurity and passion and evil desire, and we've been greedy. We've been selfish. We've been angry. We've spoken with malice. We've gossiped.

Because we are sinful and God is perfectly holy, righteous, and perfect, we cannot enter into his presence. Friends, there is nothing we can do about it. We can't clean ourselves up enough to enter into his holy, perfect, and blessed presence. The good news of the gospel is that God has taken the initiative to send his Son, who willingly came for the joy set before him, and he endured the cross.

He died in our place. He lived the life we couldn't live. He died the death we had to die for our sin, so that through trusting in his life and death and resurrection, God enacts that sweet exchange. Jesus takes our sin, and we receive Jesus' righteous, obedient life so we can enter into God's presence with joy, with hope, with confidence.

You know what? Today can be the day that you can enter into his presence by trusting in Jesus, by placing your confidence and your hope in him. But do you know what the Christian life is not? The Christian life is not the Nike slogan, "Just do it." The Christian life is it has been done for you, so rest in it. Jesus did it for us. All we have to do is rest in it. Paul goes on in verses 26-35.

  1. Worship is orderly, not chaotic. "What then, brothers [and sisters]? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. If any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn, and let someone interpret. But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent in church…

Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. If a revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged, and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets." Why does he give this instruction?

"For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church."

Imagine coming in on Sunday mornings through those doors, and instead of following along in the songs we sing, everyone sings whatever song they feel like singing. Or during the time of teaching, everyone just starts learning and sharing, speaking on whatever they have been learning and reading about. It would be chaos.

In the same way, people at Corinth were coming into worship, saying whatever they wanted to say, speaking over one another, talking at the same time, being disruptive. As a result, they were not being built up in Christ. So, what does Paul do? He instructs them. He provides order to their public gathering.

So, to summarize, if you come together and want to speak tongues, it has to be orderly…two or three and interpret. As for prophecy, speak in an orderly way. Let others weigh what's said. Again, there's a standard of truth. They can weigh, they can evaluate if it's true. If this can't be done with tongues and prophecy, he says to be silent, both men and women. That's important.

The next verse I'm about to jump into gets all the emphasis, but I want you to see that he actually tells both men and women to be quiet if they can't speak in an orderly way, if they can't speak in a way that builds up others. The basis for the order is a simple answer: God. Corporate worship should be a reflection of God's character.

Paul goes on. I want to be very careful and clear. Paul here addresses a specific problem happening in the Corinthian church. What was the problem? Apparently (we read this in verses 34-35), there were some wives who were being disruptive by asking questions and bringing disorder. They were asking disruptive, disorderly, selfish questions. As a result, they were bringing shame to their husbands.

So, what does Paul say? Let me just take a moment to say a few things. First, again, we can't miss the fact that Paul is concerned, overall, about order and that he's addressing a specific question happening at Corinth that, apparently, wasn't happening in the other churches, because he didn't address it.

Let me also say this passage, these verses, have been used and abused to sinfully hurt women. If that has happened to you, I just want to say I'm so sorry. God created you, women. God created you. He gave you gifts, and those gifts are good for our body. We need your gifts to help build us up. As a fellow image bearer of God, you are equal in worth and value and dignity.

In fact, in the ancient world, women weren't allowed to speak, period, but back in 1 Corinthians 11:5, if you remember from a couple of weeks ago, we saw that women were praying and prophesying in church. So, what does Paul do? He says, "Continue using your gifts, but do so in an honorable, orderly way." Paul speaks to this specific problem so that they would use their gifts rightly. We believe the same today.

Here at Watermark, we believe God has given us clear teaching on how to order his church. It's not our church; it's his church that Jesus died to obtain with his own blood. First Timothy 2 and Titus 1 both make clear that the office of pastor or elder or overseer is given to biblically qualified men who are able to teach so they can bear the burden of leadership and protect the church from false teaching. This is for our good.

But hear this. Outside of this office of pastor, overseer, and elder, women, we want you to use your gifts in every space in the church to teach, to encourage, to serve, to have mercy. This is for our good. I mean, I can't even begin to count the ways… We'd be here for the next three weeks if I were to recount the ways the Lord has used my wife's gifts to build me up.

She has taught me. She has admonished me. She has called out sin in my life. She has faithfully loved me. I would not be the Christian I am today apart from her. So, women, we want you to use your gifts. If you don't, we can't be the church God has called and designed us to be. So, the question for us to answer is…Will we take God at his word and use the gifts he has given us?

  1. Worship should be ordered by God's Word. That's what he says in the last four verses. I love this pastoral moment with Paul. Paul actually anticipates their objections. He says, "If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord." In other words, these are hard things to receive and to hear and to understand, but they're God's Word, so they're good and are for our good.

So, how should we think about these gifts as we gather together on Sundays? If you fast-forward to the New Testament from Deuteronomy 18, which I talked about earlier, Acts 3 tells us that Jesus is that final prophet God sent. Jesus is that final prophet Moses spoke about. He is the final and perfect revelation of God who came to fulfill all of God's saving promises. Jesus tells his disciples in John, chapter 5, "If you believed in Moses, you'd believe in me, because Moses wrote of me." Deuteronomy 18 is one passage.

In John 14:6, Jesus tells the disciples, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but through me." Did you catch that? It doesn't say he just spoke the truth. He says, "I am the truth." He's the better final prophet. Hebrews 1 tells us that at many times and in many ways (insert there the entire Old Testament), God spoke to the fathers by the prophets, in many portions and in many ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us in his Son.

Jesus is God's final revelation, and he has been given to us and our salvation, and now we have God's true and authoritative revelation written down for us in the Scriptures so we might know and delight in the good news that King Jesus has come as the better prophet, priest, and king, and now we have the privilege to be a part of God's mission, proclaiming this good news that we have in God's Word to one another, and to be a part of God's mission as we proclaim this gospel to every tribe, language, people, and nation. The question for you and me is…How are we using our gifts to build each other up?

As we close, I want to take a moment for us to think about God's grace in giving us Christ, in giving us his Spirit, in giving us his Word, in giving us gifts, in giving us one another. God has provided everything you and I need, that we might find our joy and our hope in Christ. If we are going to take full advantage of that, we need to do it collectively, because we are better collectively than we are individually. He has committed to you and me and has provided everything we need to be conformed more into the image of his Son. Part of that process is his use of you and me in each other's lives.

I don't know if you've ever heard about or seen the Cologne Cathedral. The Cologne Cathedral in Cologne, Germany, is Germany's most visited landmark. At five stories tall, it is the tallest twin-spired church in the world. What's interesting about this church is the construction began in the 1200s and stopped, resumed in the 1400s and stopped, and then resumed again and was completed in the 1800s. For you math people, that's 600 years it took to build this thing.

Now, imagine those first people tasked with the building of that cathedral. You're given a shovel. Maybe one person has a bigger shovel or a smaller shovel. Maybe one person has a square shovel or one person has a pick or one person has a round shovel. You're just given a shovel, and you start to dig. You're just doing your part. You probably have no idea what that cathedral will become, what that little mound of dirt will become. You're just doing your part.

People would come along after you, and they'd do their part, and 600 years later, that thing was constructed. Friends, that's how God describes the church. Ephesians 2 tells us we are God's building. God is building us up in Christ into something beautiful. You and I can play a part in that work of building up one another so that God, in his purposes that we can't see, can use our words and our gifts to build each other up, that we might find our joy, hope, and satisfaction in Christ.

So, friends, don't waste your words. Don't waste your gifts. Use them, and 1,000 years from now, 10,000 years from now, God will do something in us because he has committed to us to build something beautiful. Don't underestimate the power of your gifts and your words in your brothers' or sisters' lives. Let's pray together.

Father in heaven, you are so good to us. Thank you for giving us everything we need. If you did not spare your own Son, but gave him up for us all, how will you not also with him freely give us all things? Not only have you given us your Son; you've given us your Spirit to gift us, to fill us, to guide us, to lead us. You've given us gifts to be used in other people's lives, that those gifts might be used to encourage, to strengthen, to comfort.

Father, remind us this morning that we are better together than we are individually. We need each other. People need our gifts and words, and we need other people's gifts and words to find our joy in Christ, to be conformed more into his image. We pray, Lord, this morning that you would do that in us by your grace. We ask these things in Christ's name, amen.

About '1 Corinthians'

Challenges believers to examine every area of life through the lens of the Gospel. Paul addresses divisions among believers, food, sexual integrity, worship gatherings, and the resurrection.